Helicopters come to Kentucky Expo Center for HAI HELI-EXPO - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Helicopters come to Kentucky Expo Center for HAI HELI-EXPO

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Everything you need to know about helicopters is happening in Louisville, Kentucky, this week.

It impacts your food, your health and your safety in ways you might not even know.

Almost everyone has a hobby and Mel Parkington knows here.

"I came up with the Navy and now I have some law enforcement and firefighting time," Parkington said. "We've seen lots of parts, lots of new aircraft, training aircraft."

This week, she's in helicopter heaven. 

"This is the largest rotor aircraft show the world," said Peter Lengyel, President and CEO of Safran USA. "So think Paris airshow, but for helicopters." 

All the innovation that the helicopter industry has to offer is in one location: the Kentucky Expo Center.

These are the people who manufacture, who fly and who buy. Industry experts call avionics Kentucky's hidden gem. Aviation in Kentucky is a $10 billion industry. You might not know this, but it's the state's number one export above tobacco, even above bourbon.

"We have a major facility in Walton, Kentucky," said Lengyel. "It's where we make our wheels and brakes for our number one customer in the world, Boeing commercial aircraft. We provide those wheels and brakes to customers around the globe."

The deals and decisions made here impact you from food to fuel, to health and public safety.

"We spray the crops that you eat," said Matthew Zuccaro, president and CEO of Helicopter Association Int'l. "You drive your car and put oil into it. Seven-hundred helicopters operate in the Gulf, taking tens of thousands of workers to those platforms."

"When you're in a hospital or need transport to a trauma center, we're the ones who pick you up and save your life," said Zuccaro. "If you have some kind of criminal event, law enforcement is over you in no time flat."

It's the first time Kentucky has hosted the HAI HELI-EXPO. The 20,000 attendees are expected to bring nearly $10 million in economic impact to the area. 

For Mel Parkington, it's more than a trade show.

"It is an awesome opportunity," Parkington said.

It's like helicopter heaven. 

The HAI HELI-EXPO runs through Thursday. It is a ticketed event.

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